|World T20, Bangladesh, March-April 2014|
Reality bites for Ireland
Niall O'Brien (Irish Independent)
OUR team has pulled off the impossible in the past, produced major shocks, celebrated in the dressing room afterwards and then gone back to our hotel where our loyal band of superb supporters joined in the celebrations. It's hard to explain just how bad it feels to be on the wrong end of all that.
Instead of going back to our hotel in Sylhet and embracing those we have celebrated with over the years, we go back to see a strong core of Dutch fans cheering their heroes on after a stunning victory.
Instead of preparing for Sri Lanka on Monday and then New Zealand, South Africa and another crack at England, we're preparing for the flight home. The tournament goes on without us and we haven't made it as far as the tournament proper. That hasn't sunk in yet and will take a while to come to terms with.
We watched Zimbabwe climb above us on net run rate in the first game when they beat UAE quite comfortably as they were expected to do.
That, in theory, increased the pressure on us because we knew there was no safety net if we lost to Holland. In reality, we had no intention of ever needing a safety net – the plan had always been to win our three games and, at the half-way stage yesterday, we were well on our way to doing that.
Our skipper William Porterfield continued his excellent form which should give him a huge confidence boost heading into a big season at Warwickshire, but, like the rest of us at the moment, it's hard to think about next season with the pain of the defeat still so raw.
After that came a superb partnership of over a hundred, struck at two runs a ball between Kevin and Andrew Poynter which saw us soar to 189 at the half-way point. We knew this meant that Holland had to get 190 in 14.2 overs, or more simply 190 in 86 balls. It turned out they even had a few balls to spare.
I don't know what the odds were, but, against our experienced attack there was nobody, really, who thought that was possible. But teams can be dangerous when backed into a corner. If they were going to go out, they were going to go down swinging.
Unfortunately for us, almost every time they swung, they connected and the ball was disappearing to all parts of the ground.
We said earlier in the week that just two balls can change the entire momentum of a game and that came in the second over when Stephan Myburgh got stuck into young Andy McBrine with three consecutive sixes and an over that cost 25 runs.
From then on, they believed they could do it and it felt that every time the Dutch tried for a maximum they succeeded.
Momentum is a huge thing in any sport. We showed that against England a couple of years ago when Kevin hit them everywhere. It can be difficult for the oppostition to change things when the tide is going with you.
Unfortunately, it was against us yesterday. Fourteen overs go by in a blur and, before you know it, it's all over and you're gone.
Even our one day specialist Alex Cusack felt the force of their attack and in the end it was all too inevitable.
When we got rid of Myburgh there was an opening, but Tom Cooper was soon in and continuing where the former had left off.
To be assailed by one great innings of power-hitting in a match is difficult, but when another guy comes in and picks up the mantle immediately, it's very difficult to stop.
We'll all wonder what could have happened had we held on to the early chance off him, but that went down and, soon after, so did we.
We are gutted to have done so much well to put ourselves in the position to qualify and then feeling almost powerless to prevent it slipping away.
We have done this to teams in the past and loved every minute of it, but today was just one of those days when everything the Dutch tried came off. They deserve an enormous amount of credit and if the batsmen go for it like that again in the group stages, they could cause plenty of problems.
From my point of view it's been a tough two weeks in Bangladesh with not getting a opportunity with bat or gloves in the five games. The plan had been that there would be four more, at least, but it's not going to happen now.
I have worked hard every day both on my game and my fitness and feel I'm ready and in a great place for my county season with Leicestershire.
For Ireland, I'm hoping to be back involved in the huge games we have against Sri Lanka in May, which hopefully will see a good crowd in Clontarf on May 6 and 8. Our supporters have been immense for us over the years and we're all sorry that we couldn't give them another few days out here or nervous mornings and afternoons back home.
Hopefully, the women's team can make a decent impression in their T20 World Cup. I'd like to thank those who have been in touch on foot of this diary over the past week or so.
It would have been great to have a few more games to write about over the next week, but, unfortunately, it'll be Holland playing the games that were almost ours. It'll take a while to get over.